Daytona, 26 January 2014 - Aston Martin Racing added to its history books today, as all three of its Vantage GT race cars crossed the finish line of the 2014 24 Hours at Daytona after a 28-year absence for the manufacturer team. It turned out to be a challenging and incident-packed return to the world-famous race, the first round of the inaugural TUDOR United Sportscar Championship (TUSC).
The works-team’s first race of 2014 kicked off with a 20-minute long qualifying session on Thursday afternoon. However, it was not the great start it was hoping for. The #97 faced traffic in the session, meaning seasoned works driver Darren Turner struggled to place the NorthWest-liveried machine further forward than sixth place on the highly-competitive GTLM grid.
Team-mate Stefan Mücke (DE) started the grueling 24-hour long race and, within the opening lap, took the V8-powered GT charger – closely based on Aston Martin’s Vantage road car – from sixth place to second. The positive start saw the German battling for the class lead by lap three but by lap six it was clear that the balance of performance for the new championship was slightly miscalculated and Mücke started to slip back from the class pace-setters.
“The car felt good and we had the set-up right,” explains Mücke. “We just didn’t have the pace of the other cars because of the balance of performance. I managed to get a really good start and climb up to second place but I couldn’t maintain it. We know we are as fast as the other cars because we race and beat them in the World Endurance Championship, we were just too restricted here.”
“It was a tough job for the organisers to get the balance of performance right,” added Team Principal John Gaw. “It was the first event in the new championship, but they will get it right. Unfortunately, it was just too difficult for us to be competitive this weekend.”
And, the team’s luck was not to improve. After 152 laps of the 3.56-mile long Daytona International Speedway, Turner was forced to return the car to the pits with a concern with the power-steering that was too big to ignore.
“The power steering was a small issue that caused us to lose some time,” continues Gaw. “But the team did a good job to repair quickly so we could continue to race.”
Together, Turner, Mücke and team-mates Pedro Lamy (PT) and Richie Stanaway (NZ) pushed as hard as they could, putting in lap-after-lap of impressive driving and consistent lap times. By the end of the 24 hour race, Aston Martin’s #97 Vantage GTE was eighth in class.
In the GTD class, Aston Martin Racing partner team TRG-AMR raced a pair of V12 Vantage GT3s and finished 22nd and 26th.